Small businesses experience growing share of phone and internet complaints

Between October and December 2020, residential consumers and small businesses made 30,564 complaints about phone and internet services. This is a decrease of 11.2 per cent compared to the previous quarter. However, the seasonal comparison shows a 5.7 per cent increase when comparing July to December 2020 against the same period in the previous year.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Quarter 2 (Q2) 2020-21 Complaints Report shows while the number of complaints from small businesses decreased compared to the previous quarter, the proportion increased to 17 per cent of total complaints. This is the highest proportion of phone and internet complaints from small businesses in the last five quarters.

The data published today (Wednesday 3 February 2021) shows a decline in complaints across all service types in the quarter. After a high reliance on internet services during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, internet complaints have dropped 20.7 per cent. Mobile has become the leading service type with 10,118 complaints. The volume of mobile complaints remains steady compared to the previous quarter and to Q2 2019-20.

All top 10 issues have decreased in volume compared to the previous quarter, apart from contract variations by providers, and consumers having no working service. The issue of providers being uncontactable decreased 40 per cent this quarter.

For small businesses, complaints about the disconnection of services have appeared in the top 10 issues, replacing complaints about number problems. This quarter also showed increases in the volume of complaints about business loss and having no working service.

Complaints about the top ten providers decreased in volume compared to the previous quarter, although some providers saw increases compared to Q2 2019-20. Complaints about Dodo Services Pty Ltd declined 23 per cent compared to Q1 2020-21, and TPG closely followed with a decrease of 21 per cent.

Commenting on the Q2 results, Ombudsman Judi Jones said the decline in complaints this quarter was pleasing to see. “Although we often see complaints decrease this time of year due to the summer break, after the challenges of 2020, this is a significant accomplishment. The industry, government, regulators, advocates, and Ombudsman have demonstrated a commitment over the past year to ensure continuity of service for consumers in the face of great change.

“Small business owners and telcos have done it tough through the pandemic. Whilst the slight proportional increase in small business complaints isn’t yet cause for concern, it is important that small business owners have access to reliable phone and internet services, as many depend on these services to operate. The impact of phone and internet problems can be significant for small business owners who don’t have a back-up plan.”

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